One of the small but significant ways in which people living in slums can defend themselves in the fight against the Coronavirus is through continuous use of masks. However, due to low per capita incomes - for many in the informal settlements - it is often a choice between food or masks. Where masks are available, men - working outside the house - tend to prfioritize their usage - often leaving the more vulnerable segments of families - women and children - to go without or use not-very-effective alternatives like dupattas and kerchiefs. And quite often, the masks used by this segment are of lower quality and families lack the knowledge on usage and care - thereby negating the impact of masks.
Some of us women alumni of Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) have come together to form 'IIM Women for Social Action' and want to help our less fortunate brethren have a fair shot at surviving this pandemic. One of the simplest ways to do this - is to provide reusable, washable, cotton masks for families living in these informal neighbourhoods - along with education on how to use these hygienically basis the limited resources available to them (think of no running water, no easy access to power, little to no soap). Additionally, we also want to make sure that these masks are sourced responsibly - and provide livelihoods for underprivileged women in and around Mumbai - so we plan to source them from women working with reputed NGOs in this area.
We request your support to help provide 25000 cotton, reusable masks to families in underprivileged communities in Mumbai - starting with K-ward in Andheri West. We are targeting Andheri, Mumbai because we have a robust on-ground network - which will help distribute these masks to those who need them the most and also help ensure education on mask usage and hygiene. The funds collected will help us source masks in a responsible manner - creating livelihood for women and help create the first line of defence against COVID-19 for our under privileged fellow citizens.